US jobless claims up from pandemic low; Mortgage charges rise barely
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose to 351,000 for the second year in a row last week, a sign that the delta variant of the coronavirus could, at least temporarily, disrupt labor market recovery.
The Labor Department report on Thursday showed that unemployment claims were up 16,000 from the previous week. As the labor market has strengthened, jobless claims, which generally track layoffs, have fallen since over 900,000 earlier this year, reflecting the reopening of the economy after the pandemic recession.
The four-week moving average of claims, which smooths out week-to-week fluctuations, saw its sixth straight decline – to a pandemic low of 336,000.
Unemployment claims still remain somewhat elevated: before the virus broke the economy in March 2020, it was typically around 220,000 a week.
The economy has reclaimed some 17 million jobs as the introduction of vaccines encouraged companies to open and expand their hours, and Americans go back to shopping, travel, and dining.
Mortgage rates rise slightly
Average long-term mortgage rates rose slightly this week, continuing a month-long low-movement trend. They stayed below 3%.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average interest rate on a 30-year mortgage rose to 2.88% from 2.86% last week. This is very close to the reference interest rate at that time last year, 2.90%. It peaked this year at 3.18% in April.
The interest rate on a 15-year loan, a popular option for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, rose to 2.15% from 2.12% last week.